PHOTO: Williamson, Inc. President and CEO Matt Largen, left, joined Franklin Mayor Ken Moore, City Administrator Eric Stuckey, and Williamson, Inc. government affairs Director Kel McDowell for a town hall at Columbia State Community College on Friday, May 25, 2018. / Brooke Wanser
By BROOKE WANSER
During a regularly scheduled town hall event, Franklin’s mayor and city administrator spoke on a panel moderated by Williamson, Inc. leaders, discussing issues presented at last week’s State of the City address in more depth, with the main topic being city growth.
Williamson, Inc. President and CEO Matt Largen asked about the recently released census data, which ranked Franklin as the fastest growing city in the state, and eighth fastest growing in the country.
“I’ve lived in other places, I’ve lived in the Rust Belt, you don’t want a lack of growth, you don’t want stagnation,” City Administrator Eric Stuckey said. “That’s when your community dies. You lose economic opportunity.”
Though Williamson County often receives the lion’s share of news headlines about companies relocating to the region, Largen pointed out that the community also works to retain businesses already in town.
Stuckey said Franklin has the presence of 13 Fortune 500 companies.
“Who would have thought, right here in our county, we’ve got these businesses that have such strength and diversity in what they do, but their reach is truly global.”
“For a county that holds 3 percent of Tennessee’s population, we account for 20 percent of all management jobs across the entire state,” Largen said. “That is mind-blowing today.”
Strategic growth, Moore admitted, “that’s what scares me to death every day.”
But he noted the historic core, protected by historic overlays and multiple city and community organizations.
“Every single neighborhood feels like they’re the best neighborhood in Franklin,” Moore said. “They have a lot of community pride in where they live.”
Franklin has 34,000 Facebook followers and 27,000 on Twitter. Williamson, Inc. Government Affairs Director Kel McDowell asked leaders what role social media has begun to play in disseminating information.
“It’s kind of our new reality, that’s how people connect and track their news,” Stuckey said. “We see it as a way to hear from people and respond.”
On the city’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, regularly scheduled informative videos like “Top 3 Things to know with Eric Stuckey,” and bite-sized history lessons often garner much attention.
Moore credited the city communications team, including communications manager Milissa Reierson, Stefan Juran, Stephen Price and Monique McCullough for the city’s social media reach.
Other city leaders, like county commissioner Jeff Ford, Mayor Rogers Anderson, and Nancy Conway, added their thoughts on why the city has grown into such a destination, from excellent schools, to deliberate planning, to natural resources like the Natchez Trace Parkway.
Franklin Tomorrow Executive Director Mindy Tate asked if there was anything Moore and Stuckey would have changed from city leaders’ decisions 30 years ago.
Moore said he wished the city leaders in the 80s and 90s had been “more obvious with their planning.”
Moore also pointed to the revitalization of Main Street as the key factor in changing the city’s trajectory.
Stuckey said the creation of the Cool Springs Galleria complemented the city’s beautifying of the downtown area.
“I have yet to see one [city] that has both to the level we do and how they complement one another,” he said. “To me, that that happened in that early 90s time frame has really charted the course and shaped who we are today.”